Social sustainability: towards adequate pensions

Professor Ebbinghaus discusses the imporantce of social sustainability in pension reforms at the conference Public pension systems: changing narratives, changing realities? at CEPS in Brussels on 23 March 2023. The High Level Event in cooperation with the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration brings policy makers and experts together. In his intervention he considers implications of pension reforms based on his findings from a comparative analysis of poverty and inequality in old age across Europe. It is important to apply a life-course approach as adapted in the High-Level Group Report on the Future of Social Protection and the Welfare State in the EU published in February 2023. (See slides of presentation)

Report on the Future of European welfare states

As member of the High-Level Group of the European Commission, Professor Ebbinghaus contributed to the report on the Future of Social Protection and the Welfare State in the EU, which was launched on 7 Feburary 2023 in Brussels. The expert group, chaired by former European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Anna Diamantopoulou, looked at ways to reinforce social protection both at national and European levels to respond for instance to demographic change, the impact of new forms of work, and the digital and green transitions. Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, and the ministers from Belgium, Sweden, and Spain as well as other policymakers and stakeholders attended the conference to discuss the policy implications of the report. Professsor Ebbinghaus explained the recommendations on social protection for all and its funding on a panel, highlighting the need to close access gaps for those with flexible jobs and performing non-standard work, while also extending funding for the welfare state with a broader, fairer mix of revenue sources.

Household joblessness in Europe during the crisis (2008-14)

In a new article in Socio-Economic Review (SER), Thomas Biegert (LSE, @thomasbiegert) and Bernhard Ebbinghaus (Oxford U., @B_Ebbinghaus) analyse whether the individual job loss since the Great Recession was absorbed or accumulated in households. They use EU-SILC data for 30 European countries and shift-share analysis to decompose the change in absolute HH non-employment from 2008 up to 2014 and attribute it to the change in individual non-employment, the change in HH sizes, and the change in polarization. In almost all countries the increase in household non-employment since the crisis was exacerbated by rising polarization (i.e. unequal distribution of job-loss) and decreasing HH sizes. Particularly households in many crisis countries, especially in Southern Europe, were hit by such job-loss. This is surprising because we would have expected that in countries with traditional family models and limited welfare support households would absorb the impact of job-loss.

Biegert, Thomas, and Bernhard Ebbinghaus. 2020. “Accumulation or Absorption? Changing Disparities of Household Non-employment in Europe During the Great Recession.” published online (14 February 2020) in Socio-Economic Review ( An open access preprint is also available on SocArXiv ( See also Social Europe blog: “Households failed to absorb massive job loss during economic crisis”, Social Europe (, blog, 26/3/2020).